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Oca questions. Companion planting, harvest and more

 
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So this is the first year I have grown Oca. I got Bolivian Red, Black, Golden, Sunset and OE Blush.

All seem to have grown as expected except the OE Blush. I planted it with my tomatoes thinking that it would be a good lower story under the tomato. My tomatoes are staked to about 4 feet and then allowed to go sideways. I have kept them clear at the bottom for the oca but....the oca is as tall (taller in a few spots) as the tomatoes are. The tops of the OE Blush are eye level to me. Is that normal? I read that they are about 18” for most varieties but this one can be a bit taller. Uh, 4 to 5 feet is definitely a bit taller. If this is normal for this variety I will need to find it its own space. Or did I find a companion plant pair? Both seemed very, very happy.

Speaking of companion planting are there other things oca likes? Or that like oca? All the other varieties were planted with various garden plants. Nothing seemed crazy happy or poorly from the plantings. Except the previously mentioned. I also have Jerusalem artichokes, has anyone planted them together? If they do well together then that might make a nice bed. And I wouldn’t care if the OE Blush got crazy tall.

The only thing I noticed as a possible problem was a touch of a magnesium deficiency in my soil. How much does oca take? I had to supplement some for other crops and wondered if the oca was sucking it all up. Anyone have an issue with low magnesium and oca before?

When to harvest? We have mild winters so frost kill is late usually compared with other areas. We have had frost damage already but a killing frost usually takes awhile. Is it fine to wait till January? Will they keep growing more tubers if the frost doesn’t kill the tops? When is it to late and they start to sprout in spring weather wise?
 
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I had never heard of an oxalis with tubers. I did a bit of searching and I think it is one of those plants that isn't finnicky. I have seen the ordinary sort growing in all sorts of places.
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I've been doing a lot of reading on Oca this year but was unable to secure tubers or seed for planting this growing season. 18 inches seems more reasonable, but depending on where you grow at and the light conditions-- perhaps double or more is possible. The best write-up I've found for Oca and the other andean tubers is from Bill @ Cultivariable and his guide there.

For companion plants, it sounds like they do well with alliums or other crops that wont be around by harvest in late fall. There is a companion planting section on Bill's guide as well.

Assuming I can secure tubers for the coming year-- I'll likely skip the companion planting initially.
 
Tivona Hager
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Richard Kicklighter wrote:I've been doing a lot of reading on Oca this year but was unable to secure tubers or seed for planting this growing season. 18 inches seems more reasonable, but depending on where you grow at and the light conditions-- perhaps double or more is possible. The best write-up I've found for Oca and the other andean tubers is from Bill @ Cultivariable and his guide there.

For companion plants, it sounds like they do well with alliums or other crops that wont be around by harvest in late fall. There is a companion planting section on Bill's guide as well.

Assuming I can secure tubers for the coming year-- I'll likely skip the companion planting initially.



Cultivariable is where I got mine and they certainly have done well. The growing guide was why I had not expected it to get so tall but I am smack in the middle of the perfect growing climate. I have only this years growth to personally go on and I am hoping they are growing as well below the surface as on top but I won’t have any idea on that for at least a month or more.

Honestly all of the oca is larger than I expected although the rest of the varieties don’t stand taller than the listed 18+ inches the stems are much longer and are only low from spreading. Mine are definitely spreading at the upper limits of the listed space in the growing guide but not shocking like the OE Blush.

Still so much to learn...
 
Tivona Hager
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Oops just realized I posted this in permaculture. I meant to put it in plants... sorry about that.
 
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I have some oca tubers that I'm planting this year. They're also called 'New Zealand Yam'. I'm not sure how they will go in my zone 8/9 climate, but from what I've read people near here usually just plant them like potatoes, so hopefully if I hill them up with mulch it will help protect them from frost until they're ready to harvest.

I got the tubers in July (mid winter southern hemisphere), so I think that is when harvest usually starts here, so January in northern hemisphere. It might depend on the variety though, these are an unnamed orange kind.
 
Tivona Hager
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Frost has killed most of the tops now but before they got hit I measured the other varieties by lifting the stems to see how tall they could reach. All of the varieties reached about 4 foot high so apparently the OE Blush only got that tall by climbing the tomatoes and their supports. Should be interesting to see how they produce on the tubers.
 
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We have mild winters here as well. This is my second year of growing oca and after planting twelve tubers last year, I had more than I knew what to do with. Of course I have more this year, and a number from last year that were left in the ground.

Even when they die back, they continue to develop tubers. Last year I dug in late November and December, they were fine, despite some frost. they had probably started to show frost damage a few weeks prior. Only the tubers on the surface were damaged. This is also true of ulluco and mashua.

I started a thread about this last year

https://permies.com/t/101117/crops-store-place

because these crops seem promising if you don't want to amend your soil much and don't want to spend a lot of time harvesting. They seem very passively productive. the biggest inconvenience with them is that they should not be grown in the same place for more than one year, because they can develop viruses that will be very hard to eliminate. I have already left oca and mashua in the same place for two years in a row, because it's impossible to get out all the tubers, and will have to work harder at that this winter.

Regarding companion planting, they did very well with alliums, Spanish black radishes, and crosnes. I haven't found anything that seems put off by them, although mashua has a tendency to overwhelm asparagus fronds. Bill at Cultivariable said that trellising can keep mashua from spreading too much... I had one that climbed a 10 foot deer fence this year.
 
Tivona Hager
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Fredy Perlman wrote:We have mild winters here as well. This is my second year of growing oca and after planting twelve tubers last year, I had more than I knew what to do with. Of course I have more this year, and a number from last year that were left in the ground.

Even when they die back, they continue to develop tubers. Last year I dug in late November and December, they were fine, despite some frost. they had probably started to show frost damage a few weeks prior. Only the tubers on the surface were damaged. This is also true of ulluco and mashua.

I started a thread about this last year

https://permies.com/t/101117/crops-store-place

because these crops seem promising if you don't want to amend your soil much and don't want to spend a lot of time harvesting. They seem very passively productive. the biggest inconvenience with them is that they should not be grown in the same place for more than one year, because they can develop viruses that will be very hard to eliminate. I have already left oca and mashua in the same place for two years in a row, because it's impossible to get out all the tubers, and will have to work harder at that this winter.

Regarding companion planting, they did very well with alliums, Spanish black radishes, and crosnes. I haven't found anything that seems put off by them, although mashua has a tendency to overwhelm asparagus fronds. Bill at Cultivariable said that trellising can keep mashua from spreading too much... I had one that climbed a 10 foot deer fence this year.



Oh my...You planted 12 and had to much, I planted 25 oca plants and 5 Ulluco last spring and my oca definitely liked its location. The Ulluco seemed stunted so it might not make as many tubers but I might have more oca than I know what to do with. I hope my family likes it’s flavor. I did get multiple varieties though trying to get different flavor profiles as much as possible.

I am pondering putting the oca with my Jerusalem artichokes. Seems like they might do well together but the oca is dug later from all I have read. I typically leave root crops except onions in the ground and just dig as I want to eat them but I start digging them as soon as I think they can be harvested. Perhaps they can be planted side by side so I can harvest the Jerusalem artichokes earlier and leave the oca till later. All I know is that the oca needs more room at least in autumn then what it had.
 
Fredy Perlman
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Oca's foliage seems to take frost worse than mashua's. Mashua's leaves go limp, but oca's whole structure collapses. I'm wondering if mashua is good to interplant because its frost resistant canopy can provide cover for other tubers that need more time to develop.
 
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